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Be Smart. Be SAFE

Be Smart. Be SAFE

U.S. Air Force Airman 1st Class Kodi Newsome and John Parison, 5th Civil Engineer Squadron firefighters, stand with their gear at Minot Air Force Base, North Dakota, Sept. 17, 2019. Firefighters often serve as both firefighters and emergency medical technicians because they are often the first to arrive at an accident scene. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Josh W. Strickland)

Be Smart. Be SAFE

Amy Johnson, 5th Medical Group paramedic, stands ready at Minot Air Force Base, North Dakota, Sept. 17, 2019. Paramedics have a firsthand view of the damaging effects that drunken and distracted driving can have on the public and those involved. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Josh W. Strickland)

MINOT AIR FORCE BASE, N.D. --

Seventeen incidents of drunken driving have happened this year at Minot Air Force Base.

Inconsiderate decisions like these reminded one Team Minot member of a traumatic duty he had to perform as a civilian medic.

“I was one of the people that had to go recover the body,” said Senior Airman Gibbs Bellamour, 5th Medical Group Operation Squadron aerospace medical technician.

Bellamour solemnly recalled the events from a tragic vehicle accident he, then 22 years old, responded to as a medic in Philadelphia.

The accident was caused by a drunk driver who ran into a family vehicle.

“Family of five,” Bellamour said. “It was a mom and a dad in the front seat. Three kids in the back.”

Bellamour said when he arrived the drunk driver was on the side of the road and his head was bleeding.

“Everyone in the vehicle...[I’m] just going to say they were pronounced dead except for the mother,” said Bellamour.

Bellamour shared that he had to recover the newborn who had been ejected through the front windshield.

“I spent six months in mental health trying to get that image out of my head,” said Bellamour. “I kept dreaming about that kid.”

These events affect not only the victims but also those that respond.

“It was the most horrific call I’ve ever been on because that mom ended up being told she was the sole survivor,” Bellamour said. In addition, he also went on to explain that the drunk driver of the vehicle also recovered from the accident.

Paramedics and medics on base explained that when they are called to a motor vehicle accident, often there has been alcohol involved.

“The danger is really for everyone else on the road,” said Amy Johnson, 5th Medical Group paramedic. “The best one off is always the drunk driver.”

Traumatic accidents happen every day in North Dakota. Impaired and distracted driving are among crimes the most often committed, killing someone every 30 minutes on average nationally, as reported by the North Dakota Department of Transportation.

Stay Alive From Education (SAFE), a national non-profit organization, will host an immersive no-holds-barred presentation from first responders on the dangers of distracted and impaired driving and the non-use of seatbelts at the base theater, Sept. 25-27, 2019.

They aim to empower the audience with information to make rational decisions regarding their well-being and the well-being of those around them.

Firefighters and paramedics will demonstrate the procedures and equipment they use to save lives when called to the scene of an accident. They will hold interactive discussions featuring their eyewitness testimonies and pictures of real-life trauma accidents.

Join the SAFE team and the base safety office Sept. 25-27, 2019, at 8 a.m., 1:30 and 3:30 p.m., at the base theater in exploring what Team Minot can do to educate Airmen and their families and prevent irreversible decisions. There will be another session on Sept. 26, 2019, at 5 p.m. to accommodate families and young drivers.

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